Poverty isn’t a condition that people aspire to. It is a reality that is inflicted on tens of millions of people around the world through no fault of their own. Most of the children on earth are born into poverty, and held in the grip of that poverty for their whole lives. Ireland is an economic failure, and it is so because of the actions of a very small number of people. Ireland was robbed blind, not by some foreign invader, but by wealthy and powerful Irish people who stole everything that they could lay their grubby little hands on. They sold out the poor and the powerless of the country, and ensured, by their gluttony, that this country will spend the next half century, at least, in the grip of a perma-recession – an economic depression that will be the destruction of hundreds of thousands of people. In Dublin alone six people are made homeless every single day. Social welfare has been slashed, and everywhere the cost of living and rent increases. Those on the bottom of the economic heap are being left out in the cold to starve and to die – and they are starving and dying.
Walking through the streets of Dublin we see the Gardaí harassing the homeless everywhere they see them. Not so long ago we saw the images captured by members of the public of a police officer on Henry Street deliberately standing on a homeless man who was sleeping in a doorway. We were shocked to witness this, but the very fact of it indicates that this indifference towards the suffering of the poor is a culture within the instruments of state. Over the past seven years; the lean years, we have listened as the government and the media have increasingly blamed the poor and the powerless for their own suffering – as though it was them who landed the country where it is. In England there is now an overt policing policy which effectively criminalises homelessness and feeding the homeless, and we are seeing many of the same tactics being employed on our streets. Ireland loves to mimic England. Old habits, and all that… No longer can we afford to continue with our eyes closed. Bullies only ever get away with what they do to the weak and the vulnerable when the rest of us stand back and do nothing. It is time that we started to act.